Reiki is an ancient natural healing art.
The term Reiki is a Japanese word and it can be translated as ‘universal life force energy’.
As with all Japanese words, each syllable has several meanings, so ‘Rei’ can be translated as ‘universal’, ‘divine’, ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’.
The second character, ‘Ki’ means ‘life-energy’, ‘breath’; it is known as the life force that flows through every living being. In China it is called ‘Chi’; in India, ‘Prana’; it is also known as ‘bio-energy’ and ‘orgone’.
The therapy is based on the concept that the body has an energetic field that affects to its health and proper functioning. This energy travels in certain pathways and can become blocked or weakened.
During a treatment Reiki is activated to run through the patient restoring the flow of energy, promoting balance and well-being on all levels: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
Reiki is an ancient natural healing art lost through time. It was “re-discovered” in the early 1900s by a Japanese man called Mikao Usui.
There are conflicting stories circulating concerning the background of Mikao Usui and the story of Reiki, and many of them can be considered as myth. This is because it was not easy for westerners to find out information from Japan due to difficulties in translating pre-1940s Japanese texts into western languages and the restrictions placed upon traditional Reiki practitioners.
The following text is Dr Usui’s memorial inscription, written in 1927, a year after his death, by disciples Masayuki Okada and Juzaburo Ushida.
This translation is taken from “Reiki Fire” by Frank Arjava Petter. I am reproducing it in full here because it is the most accurate record I have found, and because it embodies the spirit of Reiki.
“Someone who studies hard (i.e., practices meditation) and works assiduously to improve body and mind for the sake of becoming a better person is called “a man of great spirit.” People who use that great spirit for a social purpose, that is, to teach the right way to many people and do collective good, are called “teachers.” Dr. Usui was one such teacher. He taught the Reiki of the universe (universal energy). Countless people asked him to teach them the great way of Reiki and to heal them.
Dr. Usui was born in the first year of the Keio period, called Keio Gunnen, on August 15th (1865). His first name was Mikao and his other name was pronounced either Gyoho or Kyoho. He was born in the village of Yago in the Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture. His ancestor’s name was Tsunetane Chiba. His father’s name was Uzaemon. His mother’s family name was Kaweai. From what is known, he was a talented and hard working student. As an adult he traveled to several Western countries and China to study, worked arduously, but did at [one] point run into some bad luck. However, he didn’t give up and trained himself arduously.
One day he went to Mount Kurama on a twenty-one day retreat to fast and meditate. At the end of this period he suddenly felt the great Reiki energy at the top of his head, which led to the Reiki healing system. He first used Reiki on himself, then tried it on his family. Since it worked well for various ailments, he decided to share this knowledge with the public at large. He opened a clinic in Harajuku, Aoyama, Tokyo in April of the 11th year of the Taisho period (1922). He not only gave treatments to countless patients, some of whom had come from far and wide, but he also hosted workshops to spread his knowledge. In September of the 12th year of the Taisho period (1923), the devastating Kanto earthquake shook Tokyo. Thousands were killed, injured, or became sick in its aftermath. Dr. Usui grieved for his people, but he also took Reiki to the devastated city and used its healing powers on the surviving victims. His clinic soon became too small to handle the throng of patients, so in February of the 14th year of the Taisho period (1925), he built a new one outside Tokyo in Nakano.
His fame spread quickly all over Japan, and invitations to distant towns and villages started coming in. Once he went to Kure, another time to Hiroshima prefecture, then to Saga prefecture and Fukuyama. It was during his stay in Fukuyama that he was hit by a fatal stroke on March 9th, of the 15th year of the Taisho period (1926). He was 62 years of age.
Dr. Usui had a wife named Sadako; her maiden name was Suzuki. They had a son and a daughter. The son, Fuji Usui, took over the family business after Dr. Usui’s passing.
Dr. Usui was a very warm, simple and humble person. He was physically healthy and well proportioned. He never showed off and always had a smile on his face; He was also very courageous in the face of adversity. He was, at the same time, a very cautious person. His talents were many. He liked to read, and his knowledge of medicine, psychology, fortune telling and theology of religions around the world was vast. This lifelong habit of studying and gathering information certainly helped paved the way to perceiving and understanding Reiki.
Reiki not only heals diseases, but also amplifies innate abilities, balances the spirit makes the body healthy, and thus helps achieve happiness. To teach this to others you should follow the five principles of the Meiji Emperor and contemplate them in your heart. They should be spoken daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.
Don’t get angry today
Don’t worry today
Be grateful today
Work hard today (meditative practice)
Be kind to others today
The ultimate goal is to understand the ancient secret method for gaining happiness (Reiki) and thereby discover an all-purpose cure for many ailments. If these principles are followed you will achieve the great tranquil mind of the ancient sages. To begin spreading the Reiki system, it is important to start from a place close to you (yourself), don’t start from something distant such as philosophy or logic.
Sit still and in silence every morning and every evening with your hands folded in the ‘Ghasso’ or ‘Namaste’. Follow the great principles, and be clean and quiet. Work on your heart and do things from the quiet space inside of you. Anyone can access Reiki, because it begins within yourself!
Philosophical paradigms are changing the world. If Reiki can be spread throughout the world it will touch the human heart and the morals of society. It will be helpful for many people, not only healing disease, but the Earth as a whole.
Over 2,000 people learned Reiki from Dr. Usui. Even more learned from his senior disciples who carried Reiki further. Now after Dr. Usui’s passing, Reiki will continue to spread far and wide. It is a universal blessing to have received Reiki from Dr. Usui and to be able to pass it on to others. Many of Dr. Usui’s students converged to build this memorial here at Saijhoji Temple in the Toyotoma district.
I was asked to write these words to help keep his great work alive. I deeply appreciate his work and I would like to say to all of his disciples that I am honored to have been chosen for this task. May many understand what a great service Dr. Usui did for the world.”
Dr Usui established the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Usui System of Natural Healing Society) in 1922 and his teachings became more formalised.
One of Mr. Usui’s students, Chujiro Hayasi (1880-1940), brought Reiki to Hawaii just before the Second World War; he is the forerunner of western Reiki. His head student, Mrs Hawayo Takata (1900-1980), was the first foreigner to become a Reiki Master. She helped to spread Reiki throughout the USA and then onwards to Europe; by the time she died she had initiated 22 Masters. It is said that before Ms. Takata died she passed on the responsibilities to her granddaughter Phyllis Lei Furumoto, who founded the Reiki Alliance.
Other Masters initiated by Mrs Takata moved away to establish their own lineages, e.g. Barbara Ray – The Radiance Technique; William Lee Rand – Usui/Tibetan Reiki and Karuna Reiki; Kathleen Milner – Tera Mai and Seichem.
In Japan Reiki continued in its traditional path under the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai.